So this ICS issue has all sorts of intriguing ways to diversify your company. Great! The more niche services you can offer the better! Here’s why…
Early in my business career I realized my competitors were all fighting over low-end, price-focused residential carpet cleaning. Sure, I could have entered that fray and eventually emerged victorious. But at what cost?
Instead, I diversified my company into regular contract commercial carpet cleaning plus fire and water damage mitigation. Eventually these two divisions became “the tail that wagged the dog” by providing 70% of our gross revenue and over 90% of our profits!
Of course, as we grew into a diversified operation I found quality employees to perform these varied services. But I learned that even good workers must be held accountable while at the same time being recognized and rewarded for their hard work and initiative. (For more on this, see “Recognize, Reward… Then Relax” in the April ICS.)
One essential key when diversifying is to encourage your employees to promote your new services as add-on sales. Many times these “up-sells” can be done right then while the job is being performed. Or the extra services can be scheduled later. But in either case, your employee(s) should strike while the iron is hot - face to face with the homeowner while the customer is focused on the appearance of their beautifully clean home. So no surprise that you need to recognize and reward your employees when they up-sell. (Note: This emphasis on add-on work should never justify high-pressure up-selling in the customer’s home – it’s unethical, immoral and ultimately counter-productive!)
Actually “selling” is not the best word for adding-on services. I prefer to call it “extra services orientation,” or ESO. The No. 1 reason your existing customers don’t have your company perform more services is because they don’t know you offer them, so motivate your employees to spread the word with an ESO! Then many homeowners will eagerly agree - if they know these extra services are available!
Remember, don’t depend only on your overworked and often-running-behind technicians to perform the ESO. Recognize and reward the people who answer your phone when they sell add-on services. Do the same thing with your on-site estimators and sales people. (The big advantage with this “pre-selling” before the tech arrives is you can schedule time and equipment for the additional work.)
Your goal here is to gently give the customer multiple opportunities to say “yes” to additional services being performed. Once again, “they can’t buy if they don’t know” you have diversified into these extra services. (Note: One of your very best ESO channels? Your company website! So present your Internet prospects with a clickable list of your extra services.)
The best way to sell your extra services? Reward and recognize your employees when they create delighted “cheerleaders” on the job. Why? Because these customer cheerleaders want to spend more money with your company. And they will spread the word about your extra services to their friends, workmates and on the Internet. (I call these online people “Cheerleaders on Steroids!”)
So recognize (and reward) your technicians by having an ongoing “cheerleader contest.” Develop a point system to keep score on a monthly basis. For example, my employees were credited with:
5 points when their customer mentioned them by name when praising them on their mailed-in comment card.
3 points when the comment card (or customer during your quality check call) included a specific reason why the client loved the job.
1 point when the employee’s comment card (or Q/C call) rated the job as “excellent.”
You can reward your winning employee(s) with a paid day off (always popular!), a “date night certificate” with dinner for two and movie tickets or simply a crisp $50 bill (also always popular!).
On any of these employee reward/recognition contests you come up with, be sure that they are “fair.” If employees feel like the competition is rigged or they have no chance of winning contests become very de-motivating. So some reminders:
Keep the contest long enough to smooth out the peaks and valleys of good or bad days. On the other hand…
The contest should be short enough to keep the employees interest and give them “fast gratification.” We usually ran our cheerleader contests for a month.
Be sure to adjust the employee’s scores based on the percentage (not quantity) of jobs they do. (One tech shouldn’t have to suffer simply because he or she was doing in-shop work for the last two weeks!)
Goal directed behavior works great with contests. So analyze what you want to encourage in your company and then design contests and rewards around these goals.
Try to design contests that don’t have just one winner with everyone else being considered a loser. For example, set a target “cheerleader percentage” and let everyone win that hits this number. Your goal is a stable of winners - reliable, happy, motivated employees who have bought in emotionally to the success of your company!
As I explored the accountability/recognition/rewards triangle I realized I could also “double dip” by weaving my employee recognition rewards into my customer marketing.
Once your employees are super motivated on making the cheerleader, why not double dip by marketing this new company focus to your customers? For example…
Make up large (at least 18x14-inch) magnetic signs with a King’s crown on them that say: “I Achieved 100% Delighted Customers Last Month!” Then when 100% of a tech’s comment cards and quality check calls all come in marked “excellent” or “good” for the month, he or she can proudly put these signs on their van. NOTE: Let the techs put one “100% Delighted” sign on each side and one in the back of their van. Plus buy extra signs - they occasionally fly away! (My thanks to Margret and Richard Huebner of Commercial Carpet Cleaning in Tucson, AZ for this great idea.)
Feature your winning “100% Delighted Award” tech(s) on your web site. (Hopefully all your techs will “win” every month which is great for you!) Plus, if you have a regular customer e-mail newsletter (and you should) be sure to profile your winning techs there too. And speaking of profiles…
Develop a separate “profile page” for every employee on your company website. Your prospective customer’s main concern with unknown technicians in their home is personal security. But imagine you being able to say to a first-time customer over the phone: “Let me send you the link to Bill’s profile on our company website. This way you’ll know a bit about him before he arrives to clean your carpets tomorrow morning!” You can highlight Bill’s industry experience and certifications as well as the extra services he specializes in for your company! Let customers get to know Bill. So include Bill’s family and pet photos, the names of his kids, his hobbies, his time and history in the area, etc. Feature a quote from Bill about his pride in his profession and how he feels about the customers he works with. All these topics are great, but a “Boys Gone Wild” semi-nude video of Bill chugging margaritas during his last spring break? Not so much!
Any e-mail you send your customer (including a “getting ready for your carpet cleaning check list”) should include imbedded links back to the diversified extra services profiled on your website. (For more tips and tricks on selling add-on services, write me at stoburen@StrategiesForSuccess.com and simply put the word “up-sell” in the subject line.)
Your diversified add-on services can super-charge your profits while at the same time letting your employees share in the spoils! But to do so you must focus on your accountability/recognition/rewards employee triangle!